ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay defeated Toronto, 10-8, Friday night in a wild affair at Tropicana Field that featured three lead changes.
"This is the first interesting one of the season, the back and forth," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We have a lot of them here. … It wasn't by any means the prettiest win, but really really impressed with some big hits and some timely hitting."
Toronto's Troy Tulowitzki's two-run double in the first staked Jays starter Francisco Liriano to a 2-0 lead, but the Rays answered with a five-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning.
Liriano walked Souza to start the first. One out later, Evan Longoria homered. Liriano issued two walks and a wild pitch, and Brad Miller followed with a two-run double. Liriano allowed another walk and single to load the bases before Toronto manager John Gibbons mercifully gave him the hook. Liriano allowed five runs on three hits and four walks while striking out one. He threw 35 pitches in one-third of an inning.
"You just chalk that up and move on," a frustrated Gibbons said after the game. "It's tough. You have to make a decision on whether you're going to leave him in or yank him. They took the lead. If we stop it we have a chance to maybe come back and still win it. We ended up taking the lead, but you also know one hiccup along the way you're probably in trouble because you're limited with how many guys you have down there."
Derek Norris' second-inning sacrifice fly put the Rays up 6-2, but the Blue Jays were hardly out of it.
Tulowitzki homered in the fourth and the next inning saw Souza drop a fly ball off the bat of Jose Bautista before Justin Smoak doubled to cut the lead to 6-5. Rays reliever Xavier Cedeno walked in the tying and go-ahead runs in the sixth to put the Blue Jays up, 7-6.
After the Rays went ahead with their three-run sixth, Josh Donaldson homered in the eighth to draw the Blue Jays within one run, but Norris answered with an RBI single through the right side to equal the final margin.
Alex Colome got the last four outs for the Rays to earn his third save of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Longoria gets the Rays going: After the Rays fell behind 2-0 in the first, Liriano was struggling and Longoria took advantage of the situation, jump-starting the offense. Longoria first watched a 93-mph four-seam fastball in the dirt before swinging and missing at an 86.7 mph changeup. Liriano came back with the fastball, and Longoria caught up with the 92.2 mph four-seamer and found the left-field seats, giving him his second home run of the season, and tying the score at 2. The Rays would score three more times in the inning.
Souza comes through: The Blue Jays had just taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth when Souza stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Blue Jays reliever J.P. Howell fell behind 2-1 in the count before trying to slip an 85 mph slider past Souza. The Rays right fielder connected and sent a drive to right-center field, driving home two and putting the Rays up, 8-7.
"Couldn't get it out of the lights in the gap." -- Souza on his dropped fly ball in the sixth.
"To be honest, I don't even know," -- Liriano said when asked what happened. "I didn't make any pitches and I was kind of lost out there."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Daniel Robertson recorded his first career hit, a first-inning single off Liriano.
Liriano's outing was the shortest by a Blue Jays starting pitcher since lefty Matt Boyd failed to record on an out on July 2, 2015 (seven earned runs, six hits, one walk, two homers). This marked the second time in 257 career starts that Liriano could not get out of the first inning.
Smoak hit a sharp grounder in the top of the fourth inning that bounced off the glove of first baseman Rickie Weeks Jr. That appeared to give Smoak an opportunity to beat the throw, but second baseman Miller picked up the ricochet and got the ball over to first in time. Smoak was called out and after Gibbons asked for a review and the call on the field was confirmed.
The Rays challenged in the seventh inning when Peter Bourjos was called out attempting to steal second. After a 59 second delay, the call was overturned and Bourjos had his first stolen base of the season.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will make his first start of the season when this series continues Saturday night. Sanchez was scratched from his final outing of the spring because of a blister on his right hand, but it has since healed and is not expected to impact this outing. He's coming off a season in which he led the AL with a 3.00 ERA.
Rays: Chris Archer (1-0, 2.57) will make his second start of the season Saturday in a 6:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Archer was masterful in his first outing against the Yankees, allowing two runs in seven innings to pick up the win. He is 6-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 19 career appearances (all starts) against the Blue Jays. His record and ERA are identical at Tropicana Field (3-2, 3.23 in 10 starts) and Rogers Centre (3-2, 3.23 in nine starts.)